Tuesday, May 24, 2016

517 - Vayakhel

Although Moshe was the one told by Hashem to instruct Bnei Yisrael to build the Mishkan, nevertheless, he was not in charge of the actual construction. In this week's parsha the Torah informs us that there were two people charged with that mission. The first was Betzalel and the second was Ohaliav. Rashi points out (Shemos 35:34) that Ohaliav came from sheivet Dan which was regarded as one of the "lowly" shevatim since Dan was begotten by Bilha who was a maidservant of Rachel. On the other hand, Betzalel came from sheivet Yehuda which was regarded as one of the greatest shevatim. Despite the difference in their lineages, the Torah equated the two in the construction of the Mishkan.

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) comments that Hashem does not examine a person's ancestry before choosing him for a specific position. The criteria for obtaining the position is the person's aptitude in the specific task needed to be filled. Ohaliav was the perfect man for the job and thus he was chosen to work hand in hand with Betzalel who was of a much more prestigious lineage.

Betzalel and Ohaliav were the men in charge of creating the Mishkan. Who merited executing the actual construction of the Mishkan and the numerous vessels therein? We can find the answer earlier in the parsha. "Every man whose heart inspired him came, and everyone whose spirit motivated him brought the portion of Hashem for the Mishkan" (ibid. 35:21). The Ramban explains that Bnei Yisrael had no one to train them into these highly skilled and detail oriented vocations. Nevertheless, those whose spirit motivated them to join the workforce of constructing an abode for Hashem, found the skills within themselves despite their lack of training. "Their hearts soared in the service of Hashem" and they came before Moshe and declared that they were ready to perform any task required of them.

Bnei Yisrael had spent their entire lives in Mitzrayim performing backbreaking labor. They were familiar with mortar and bricks and had never been exposed to jobs that required precision and dexterity. Yet, they had a sincere desire to contribute to the building of the Mishkan and this motivation brought them to discover within themselves skills that were hitherto unknown. Once again, the positions were filled not with those who brought the most impressive ancestry, but with those who desired to participate and thereby made themselves truly worthy for the position.

In the realm of spirituality, our advancement is up to us. One's lineage doesn't make a difference, nor do any other aspects of his background such as his schooling or the community in which he grew up. It all depends on how much one desires to advance in his avodas Hashem. Moreover, it doesn't make a difference if one obtains a coveted position or not, since what really counts is where one is positioned in the eyes of Hashem!

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